August, named for Augustus Caesar, is our eighth month. Eight is one of my favorite numbers – it is so symmetrical and turned on its side it becomes infinity. And the hot weather and long days make August my favorite month.
In my childhood the beginning of August was definitely still summer holiday with the promise of many more days for amorphous play. But as the month progressed I got more and more ready to return to school and see all my friends again. August was the true last month of the year, before the start of a new grade level and a new beginning. It is still the temporal edge between the world of play and the world of work, between the unstructured and the ordered.
August is also the month of my birthday, quiet shy retiring Leo that I am. But the night sky is the key to my love for this month. I sleep outside frequently in August, often in the mountains. The three stars – Vega, Altair and Deneb- that form the summer triangle are high overhead and easy to see. Looking at Sagittarius is looking toward the center of our Galaxy; by far the densest concentration of stars in the Milky Way. It is supposed to be an archer but actually looks exactly like a teapot.
The Perseid Meteor shower peaks on August 12th – guaranteed shooting stars, at least one per minute, often more. My favorite constellation – Scorpio – is high in the southern sky, one of the few constellations that actually looks like what it is supposed to be. It is one huge scorpion. Its brightest star is a red giant called Antares — literally “rival of Mars” because it is the same color and about the same brightness as the planet.
Antares’ magnificent red color is mirrored in the red of the earthly month. The Indian paintbrushes are in full flower, the poison oak leaves have turned a brilliant scarlet and the abundant Anna’s humming birds are flashing their brilliant hues. All hail to Caesar, hail to August.
This is Michael Ellis with a Perspective.